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During this part of your test, an examiner would have a face-to-face interview with you and assess your ability to hold a conversation as well as your vocabulary, fluency and pronunciation. 

Just thinking about having that conversation and getting assessed in real-time might feel daunting. 

However, you’ll have a good chance of scoring more points if you keep calm and avoid making common mistakes such as going off-topic or repeating the same words (more on that later). 

1. Trying to memorise answers

Although memorising answers could be helpful when it comes to written tests, this, unfortunately, isn’t the case for the speaking test of your IELTS. 

As you’ll be interacting with a human examiner in real-time, you’ll be required to respond correctly and quickly, with spontaneity. Thus, it would be obvious if you’re attempting to recite an answer from memory since your response wouldn’t flow in a conversational manner. 

Instead of memorising answers, it would be more helpful to answer authentically with what comes up in your mind at the moment

2. Not speaking aloud and with confidence

You might be feeling nervous during your test – and that’s okay. 

Your IELTS interviewer isn’t expecting you to speak like a news presenter. However, mumbling and avoiding eye contact wouldn’t do you any favours. 

It helps to interact with your examiner as you would with a colleague or friend and occasionally smile as well as maintain good eye contact. 

Two female IELTS test takers discussing while checking with a laptop.

3. Going off-topic

Sometimes it can be easy to go off-topic especially when you lose sight of the question or answer without understanding it properly. 

Unfortunately, talking more does not necessarily score you more points. In fact, if your answer fails to address the question, you could get marks deducted for coherence. 

Before you respond, take a moment to ask yourself if you truly understand the question. In the event you require any clarification, you can get the examiner to repeat the question or double-check if you got it right. 

4. Giving yes or no answers without good elaboration

While it isn’t necessarily good to talk more, not talking enough can be an issue too. 

After all, if you say too little or simply answer with “yes” or “no”, you wouldn’t get to showcase your fluency and ability. 

Depending on the segment of your test, you’ll be given clear instructions about the length of speaking – so you can have a good gauge before answering. Typically you’ll be required to answer with two to six sentences, depending on the question. 

5. Repeating the same words or phrases

Using the same words or phrases over and over will not help you to score points in your test as it gives the impression that you have a limited speaking vocabulary. 

It helps to learn some synonyms or expand your vocabulary so that you can describe the same things or situations in different ways. Hence, communicating more creatively. 

Two female test takers sitting on a sofa and having a conversation.

6. Overusing transition words

Sometimes it can be helpful to use transition words such as “for example”, “on the other hand” or “first”. However, using them too much could affect your score – especially when it prevents you from sounding natural. 

There are also other words used in formal writing, for example, “in addition” and “furthermore”, which can also sound weird when you say them in conversation. 

7. Parroting the question and poor pronunciation

As its name suggests, parroting the question is repeating the interviewer’s question but in statement form. 

Unfortunately, doing so wouldn’t impress the interviewer. This is because you’ll be graded on your ability to paraphrase the question structure or words and vary speech. 

On top of that, poor pronunciation is another mistake to avoid, especially since pronunciation makes up 25% of your IELTS Speaking score. It helps to find synonyms that you are confident with pronouncing so as to have a smoother conversation. 

Ace your IELTS test with IDP

Knowing what not to do is half the battle won, so remember to avoid the above mistakes during your IELTS test! 

However, it is also important to take the necessary steps to prepare for all aspects of your test properly. 

At IDPexternal icon, we have IELTS test preparation material and a range of tools and resourcesexternal icon to support you – so that you can get ready for your test effectively. 

Book your IELTSexternal icon with us today!